‘Appalled’: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews furious over tradie protests
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has issued a stern warning to protesters after violent scenes erupted in Melbourne.
“Can I say at the outset that the ugly scenes that we saw yesterday are not only appalling, they’re unlawful,” the Premier told reporters on Wednesday.
“Victoria Police will take action against those who did the wrong thing yesterday.
“There were some people there who you would say were from the building industry. There were others who were not from the building industry.
“They’re not there to protest, they’re there for a fight.”
The Premier said the ongoing rallies could even threaten the end of the state’s sixth lockdown.
“We are so close, we are so close to meeting those vaccination targets at 70 per cent double dose, 80 per cent double dose, ending this lockdown, getting past this thing,” he said.
“Yes, it will be a difficult time in our hospital system. We will see patients but we are going to normalise this and we are going to be open and the days of lockdowns will be behind us.
“This sort of behaviour puts everything at risk.”
Mr Andrews said there were more Covid-19 cases in the construction industry than there were in aged care, with 350 tradies currently positive with the virus.
The state leader confessed that the violent rallies did not reflect the entire sector and said majority of Victorians were doing the right thing.
“They did not reflect, and should not be seen to reflect, an entire industry. That would be unfair. That would be wrong,” Mr Andrews said.
Three police officers were injured in yesterday’s protest, Police Commissioner Shane Patton said.
“We took as many actions as we could yesterday to try to stop them inconveniencing or causing any injury to the members of the public,” he said.
“That outcome yesterday, while tremendously inconvenient and absolutely scary and frightening to people who were sitting in their cars, I absolutely concede that, that is not what we wanted to occur.
“At least three police officers were injured, a journalist was attacked, other than that though, our tactics meant that members of the community weren’t injured.”
Channel 7 reporter Paul Dowsley was the journalist who was injured.
He was covering the second day of protests over mandatory vaccinations as demonstrators marched from CFMEU headquarters to Parliament House when he and his cameraman were set upon by an angry mob.
Vision of the moment showed he was grabbed around the neck before other protesters joined in on the fracas.
“The outcome of that was Rick, my cameraman colleague, and myself, now being covered in what I believe is urine,” he said in a live cross shortly after.
“I believe that this has been thrown in my mouth, it’s all over me.”
Meanwhile, The Premier shared a statement to his Twitter yesterday which said anger “wasn’t going to make this pandemic end any quicker.”
“Acts of violence like we’ve seen in the city in the last two days isn’t going to stop people ending up in ICU, or be any help to the nurses treating them,” he wrote.
“Literally only one thing will – getting vaccinated.”
On Tuesday fuming construction workers and anti-lockdown protesters caused chaos across Melbourne, with violent and unruly rallies shutting down major roads.
Victoria Police made 62 arrests in response to the “challenging and confronting” confrontations, with between 1000 and 2000 flocking to the streets.
No community members were hurt but one reporter was attacked multiple times and three police officers were injured.
On Wednesday opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the protest was the work of “violent thugs”.
“This was the actions of violent thugs who have engaged in this activity for two days in a row and Labor condemns them along with the rest of the trade union movement who have also condemned these actions,” he said.
Protesters ran into oncoming traffic in a bid to flee from police on Tuesday, the second day of violent rallies, as riot squads attempted to thwart the day’s chaotic rally.
Scenes turned violent in the city after tradies stormed and shut down the West Gate Bridge, clashing with police in South Wharf.
Chaotic vision showed protesters pelting objects at police cars and smashing windows, while police drove at the crowd and fired rubber bullets.
The dramatic clashes came after hundreds of people marched through the city before taking over the bridge, where they lit flares, sang rock songs and screamed profanities.
As protesters walked back down the bridge towards the city, they were greeted by riot police, who unloaded rubber bullets and pepper spray into the crowd.
Some protesters walked into oncoming traffic in the opposite lanes to avoid the barrage, while others fled into nearby bushes.
Earlier on Tuesday, protesters dressed in fluoros faced off with police outside Queen Victoria Market as they tried to return to the CFMEU office for the second day of demonstrations.
Protesters had original rallied to voice to detest mandatory vaccinations for construction workers.
But the violent rallies forced the premier to shut down the industry for two weeks.
– additional reporting by Jack Paynter and Rhiannon Tuffield
Originally published as ‘Appalled’: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews furious over tradie protests
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails